MIAMI – Today in Aviation, The Russian built long-haul, wide-body, quad-jet the Ilyushin ll-96 took its first flight in 1988. The aircraft was subsequently certified in 1992 before entering service with Aeroflot (SU) in July 1993.

The aircraft is a shortened version of the Soviet Union’s first wide-bodied airliner the ll-86. It has various advanced features over its predecessor, including an increased max take-off weight, a redesigned wing with winglets, plus improved avionics and upgraded turbofan engines.

Pre COVID-19, Cuba’s flag-carrier Cubana (CU) had five ll-96-300s in service. (Photo: Mark Tang (GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html or GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html), via Wikimedia Commons)

Variants


A number of variants of the ll-96 have been built. The base version was the -300, capable of carrying 262 passengers in a two-class configuration. Five heavily modified aircraft known as the -300PU have been used as the Russian presidential fleet.

The -96M is a stretched version, capable of carrying 312 passengers in a three-class layout. The type is powered by four Pratt & Whitney PW2337 engines and no longer requires a Flight Engineer. The manufacturer also created a freighter known as the ll-96T.

A Polet ll-96T landing at Melbourne in 2010. The freighter -96T was first rolled out on April 26, 1997. (Photo: Mehdi Nazarinia (GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html or GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html), via Wikimedia Commons)

A Plane With No Orders


In February 2017 a further variant was announced. Based around the -96T freighter, the -400M would be capable of carrying 400 passengers. The prototype airframe has been built and the first flight was due to take place in 2021.

Currently however there are no orders for this version. Therefore in April it was announced that the aircraft will not enter mass production due to a “lack of interest from the airlines and the worldwide idling of the long-range fleet due to the pandemic.”


Featured image: Aeroflot was the launch customer of the ll-96 and operated ten of the type between 1993 and 2014. (Photo: John Taggart from Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)